I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: the South Bank is one of our best loved parts of London and certainly our favourite rain or shine spot.
We spent what can only be described as an idyllic summer’s day there a few Sundays back.
First we caught a free show on the lawn outside National Theatre by the incredible Cirque Bijou, a young troupe blending vocal harmonies (featuring one lady doing some wicked beat boxing), breakdancing, free running and bike stunts. The show was part of Inside Out, the National Theatre’s season of free outdoor performances and workshops, playing right through September.
We grabbed a curry for lunch from the Real Food Market in front of Canteen restaurant. The mild curry lacked spice for my liking but it was only a fiver and the portion was generous enough for mama and 2 babes to share.
Featuring live cabaret (mostly paid), sideshows, food and drink shacks and vintage funfair attractions, this is a very cool spot to hang. The rollercoaster and high-flying rides were too scary for the little ones, but Jed took a spin on the kiddie cars just outside (£2 per ride for kiddie cars or carousel).
Next we spent a good hour or more browsing inside the aMAZEme exhibit in the Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall. It’s basically loads of books of every description stacked to form a maze (the maze is shaped like Rodin’s fingerprint).
The boys worked up a proper sweat chasing each other around the maze. You could stand and browse, or sit on a chair or cardboard bean bag to have a read. Like being in a library without all those old biddies shushing your kids.
Wandering outside, we spotted an ingenious play space design outside Royal Festival Hall. The babes played ‘meerkats’ crawling in and out of various ‘caves’ and ‘hills’. I think they could have spent half the day here, but it was time for another munch stop.
We had burritos and tacos (£6 burrito, £6 for 2 tacos) from Wahaca, the popular street food van that’s also got a pop-up restaurant on site for the season. It wasn’t the best burrito I’ve ever had but it was tasty enough and super filling. Ezra wasn’t so keen on his chicken taco but Jed licked his fingers clean.
In the last of the day’s sunshine, we hit the beach – the giant Rainbow Sandpit overlooking the river. It was lovely to climb in and feel the red, green and gold sand between my toes. With the water rippling below, we could make believe we were at the sea side.
The Mayor’s Thames Festival is happening this weekend at South Bank, Bankside and along the River Thames. See our Weekend Scoop for more info.
Check out www.southbank.co.uk for details of upcoming events. Southbank Centre is at Belvedere Rd, SE1 (Waterloo/Embankment tube).